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MASAKO MIKI: New Mythologies

New Mythologies

CULT Aimee Friberg Exhibitions (1401 16th St, San Francisco,CA 94103)

June 16 to September 25, 2021

San Francisco, CA—CULT Aimee Friberg Exhibitions is pleased to announce New Mythologies, a solo exhibition of bronze tabletop sculptures, watercolour paintings and felt sculptures by artist Masako Miki. New Mythologies is on view at CULT’s new home at Yves Behar’s fuseproject (1401 16th St, San Francisco,CA 94103).

The exhibition will run from June 16 to September 25, 2021 and marks Miki’s third solo show with CULT Aimee Friberg Exhibitions. In New Mythologies, Miki continues her exploration of the Shinto concept of the Tsukumogami yōkai—shapeshifters that take the form of commonplace objects and undefinable forms.

Masako Miki
Photo by Andrew Payter. Courtesy of the artist and CULT Aimee Friberg Exhibtions

By engaging with these ancient mythologies, Miki hopes to forge new collective narratives that express contemporary cultural values, echoing dichotomies of human identity and transformation. Miki’s characters embody the contrary characteristics of being both sacred and secular, animate and inanimate and reflect the nuances of non binary spaces across gender, biracial identities and her own experience as a Japanese immigrant woman living between two cultures.

For her previous two solo exhibitions with CULT, Miki created the anamorphic yōkai in human scale from brightly-colored felt wool. The artist now contrasts the hand-felted wool medium with bronzes: densely layered in opalescent automobile paints that results in a glassy finish that continuously engages the eye through reflection and shifts in color.

Left: Ichiren-Bozu (Animated prayer beads), 2021 Painted BronzeH 11 in. x W3 in. x D 3 in.Center: Kuchisake -Onnna (Mouth tear woman),2021 Painted BronzeH 8.25 in. x W7 in. x D 2.5 in. Right: Nyoijizai
(Animated back-scratcher),2021 Painted BronzeH 8.5 in. x W 6
in. x D 6 in.Photo courtesy of the artist and CULT Aimee Friberg Exhibitions

The figures—present in the gallery exhibition at table top size—are presented in monumental scale outdoors at the corporate installation. The varying scale of Miki’s yōkai allows viewers multitudinous engagements with the sculptures, aligning with the spiritual figures’ existence as fluid, frictionless forms.

In collaboration with Artworks Foundry in Berkeley, Miki has expanded the boundaries of bronze casting to produce mirror-smooth, seamless surfaces. Further departing from traditional bronze work, Miki has synthesized patina with modern paint to imbue the medium with a new life. Of working with bronze as a medium, Miki states, “Bronze sculptures have a beautiful presence with patina finish that offer curvilinear movement in my work.

Installation View: New Mythologies at CULT
Aimee Friberg Exhibitions. Photo by Wyatt Hall, Impart
Photography Courtesy of CULT Aimee Friberg Exhibitions.

I have combined both patina and very subtle layers of paint to create flickering optical illusions of colours, which emphasize movement and highlight the shape of form. My sculptures have been shape-shifting in materials from paper to felted wool and now, in innovating on the appearance of bronze with new form and materials for a contemporary audience. These evolutions are a natural process because the essence of the shapeshifters is fluidity.”

New Mythologies also includes new watercolor paintings offered in a range of sizes, including one large, wall-length artwork, that recall the appearance of Japanese scrolls. In yōkai tradition, the spirits saunter through the physical realm in a rhythmic night parade. The transparency of the watercolor medium underscores the fluidity of the spirits, who are depicted in the midst of their parade. Additionally, the artistic process of creating watercolor highlights the concept of chance and metamorphosis inherently embedded in the medium.

Miki has also unveiled a permanent public commission of her yōkai spirits to inaugurate Uber Technologies’ new campus in Mission Bay (1455 ThirdStreet and 1515 Third Street, San Francisco). The art installation, entitled Holographic Entities Reminding of the Universe, resides between two of the four buildings on the Pierpoint Lane pedestrian walkway.

©2021 MASAKO MIKI, CULT, Aimee Friberg, Wyatt Hall

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